Director Ridley Scott has owed a good job since sending Matt Damon to the red planet in “Lost on Mars” in 2015. That’s because, even then, his works no longer had the same vigor or creativity of the good days of ” Gladiator”, “The Gangster” or the classic “Blade Runner”.
But it seems that Scott paid his debts to good cinema by shooting “The Last Duel”. The debut in Brazil is this Thursday (14).
Watch the trailer for the movie “The Last Duel”
Set in 19th century France and inspired by a true story, the plot is (initially) centered on Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon). He is a knight from Normandy, northern France, who has as a friend the squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver, the Kylo Ren of the latest films in the “Star Wars” saga).
But, little by little, the two grow apart because Le Gris falls in the favor of Count Pierre d’Alençon (Ben Affleck, from “Argo”), cousin of the King of France, and gains more space at court.
However, the friendship really ends when, upon returning from a mission in Scotland, Jean is informed by his wife, Marguerite (Jodie Comer, from the series “Killing Eve”) that Le Gris has broken into her castle and raped her.
The squire denies the accusation and, due to Marguerite’s insistence on not being silent, the knight decides to challenge his former friend to fight a duel to the death. If he wins, everything will be revealed. But if he loses, his wife will suffer serious consequences.
Adam Driver plays Jacques Le Gris in “The Last Duel” — Photo: Publicity
The truth is (not) out there
What stands out in “The Last Duel” is the way it was chosen to tell the story, in a provocative and incredibly hypnotic way.
The screenplay, written by Nicole Holofcener (“Could You Forgive Me?”) and stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (who have already won an Oscar as screenwriters for “Indomitable Genius”), is inspired by the book by Eric Jager.
There are three acts to discuss the truth of what happens, whether through the eyes of Jean, Jacques and Marguerite. The question remains: would they be showing everything as it actually happened?
“The Last Duel”, by Ridley Scott, has epic and grandiose scenes — Photo: Publicity
Based on this proposal, Scott revels in, proving to be an excellent actor director. He recreates scenes over and over, but with details that make a difference to the story.
Therefore, he makes his cast strive to make coherent the changes in the narrative and demonstrate what his characters really felt at certain moments.
Thus, one of them may not be being completely honest or simply seeing the situation in the way that suits him best.
This creates a fascinating roleplaying exercise for the audience. Anyone going to see the movie shouldn’t even feel the 2 hours and 33 minutes of the movie, facing an experience little seen in current productions.
Another thing that impresses about “The Last Duel” is the fact that, just like “Cry Male”, the production was done during the pandemic.
Even with the difficulties imposed by Covid-19, there is brilliance in the reconstruction of the period and in the costumes that portrayed the plot period well, with beautiful locations in Ireland passing through France in the 14th century.
It is also worth mentioning the very well-filmed battle scenes, especially the fight between the two ex-partners, who give the film its title. In this aspect, Scott only reinforces his qualities in directing scenes of the type, as he had already shown in “Gladiator” and “Black Hawk in Danger”.
actress steals movie from stars
Jodie Comer plays Marguerite de Carrouges in “The Last Duel” — Photo: Publicity
But what really makes “The Last Duel” an impressive film is the quality of the performances of the entire cast. Matt Damon and Adam Driver do very well in their roles and don’t fall into the trap of their characters’ ambiguities.
Even Ben Affleck, who has difficulty playing villainous types, manages to stand out with his greedy and amoral earl. His look can confuse a more distracted viewer.
However, the big name of the movie is really Jodie Comer. Gradually, she steals the film for herself and becomes the true protagonist of the plot.
Ben Affleck in a scene from the movie “The Last Duel” — Photo: Publicity
Since the story turns to its questions, especially in relation to her attempts to be heard and respected about the violence she claims to have suffered, it is impossible not to recognize the incredible work of the actress.
She creates a real empathy and makes the public be her accomplice, wishing that nothing bad happens to her, even more in a period when women were so diminished.
With “The Last Duel”, Ridley Scott returns to thrill as a filmmaker. At the same time, he raises discussions that have not lost their time, for both men and women, as he did with “Thelma and Louise” (1991).
The film is a pleasant surprise and has everything to establish itself as one of the best of 2021. And, who knows, be remembered at the awards. On the technical side, more likely, but maybe even on the artistic side.